Dante’s “The Pilgrim” Poem Review
At the start of the poem, Dante is a middle-aged poet who is lost on his path. “I found myself in dark woods, the right road lost” (Alighieri 3). This right road can be considered to represent God’s path of his life, and since he wandered from it, he is sinful. As such, to overcome sin and join the kingdom of God where his love resides, he is on a quest to explore the nature of sin that starts at the gates of Hell.
The character of Dante is characterized in a way to be able to represent humanity. He does not possess any well-defined characteristics; his sins are never specified. He is both sympathetic and wrathful, fearful and brave, proud and dissatisfied. As such, the character’s traits are broad, and his experience is universal, rendering Dante an ordinary man. The personality of Dante the character dramatically differs from the author’s. His compassion and pity for the suffering souls of Hell contradict the author’s intent to bestow such agonies. For example, the poet chose to condemn to Hell even those whom he knew personally.
By straying from the righteous path, Dante falls into the danger of abandoning his faith in God and condemning himself to damnation. However, since he is not far too gone, he accepts Virgil’s help and is motivated to change, overcome his conflicts, and be free of sin and evil. One of such Dante’s conflicts is sympathy for the doomed souls, which is also his early personality trait. Being ignorant of the severity of sin, he weeps for the ones trapped in Hell. His reaction mirrors his confusion in faith, but the further he goes, the more he understands that sinners should not be pitied.
Alighieri, Dante. The Inferno of Dante Alighieri. Translated by Ciaran Carson, New York Review Books, 2004.